Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney defends $4500 a week spent on charter flights for him from Monto to Brisbane - Australia


It would be cheaper for Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to catch a taxi to and from his electorate than take charter flights, which are currently costing taxpayers about $4500 a week. 

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk today told the Budget Estimates hearing at State Parliament that Jeff Seeney racked up a $162,505 bill on flights in nine months.

He defended the cost as necessary to have strong representation for regional Queensland in parliament, and said he had no plans to change his travel schedule.

"This option has been identified as the best option by the Ministerial Services Branch," Mr Seeney said.

"It is about ensuring that regional Queensland is represented in a government that cares about regional Queensland."

A taxi from Brisbane to Monto would cost about $1100 according to Yellow Cabs - so a return trip would still be somewhat cheaper than Mr Seeney's current weekly charter flight bill.

However to drive from Brisbane to Monto would take nearly six hours - compared with just over an hour to fly the distance.

EARLIER it was reported that Mr Seeney had again been forced to defend the cost of flying to and from Brisbane each week after it was revealed charter flights cost taxpayers more than $160,000 last year.

At the budget estimates hearings on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk asked Mr Seeney if he was using charter planes as a "personal taxi service", given the $162,505 price tag over nine months.

Mr Seeney lives in Monto in central Queensland and uses a charter service to travel to Brisbane each week because commercial flights do not service the town.

"I am a regional member of parliament and our government believes that regional members of parliament have every right to hold senior positions in the government and we will continue to ensure regional Queensland is well represented in our government," said Mr Seeney.

"I travel once a week from where I live to Brisbane in a small Cessna aircraft, a four-seater.

"I would dearly love the opportunity that I suspect the (deputy Opposition leader) Member for Mackay has to have a Qantas business class option but that's not available to me."

He said the cost to taxpayers amounted to about 60 percent of his travel budget.

The bill amounts to about $4500 a week.


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